I went off in search of a colorful photo to discuss today in order to lift my spirits in the midst of this dire cold snap we’re suffering. Of course, since I usually gravitate to shades of grey, “colorful” is not usually in my repertoire…but then I remembered the day in November when I went out trolling cemeteries (yes, again) with my camera and my father in tow.

My parents live in VA, just outside Washington D.C., and I when I asked my dad to be my chauffeur for a sunrise field trip through the city’s graveyards, he agreed (bizarre, as he is not exactly a “cheerful morning person,” shall we say). But, armed with buckets of coffee and all my equipment, we trundled off to Rock Creek Cemetery. It’s not in the worst location, but I was still happy to have dad along for the ride. After a few wrong turns (has anyone every tried to navigate the roads of DC? Seriously, it’s insane), we found our way to the wrought iron gates. The sun was starting to rise and I spotted my statue as soon as we entered the grounds.

Me: “There! Go that way! I see a beautiful one!”

Dad: *sips coffee, takes foot off gas pedal, looks around*

Me: “On the right! Over there – quick! The sun’s exactly where I want it!”

Dad: “Hmm? Did you say something?”

I unpacked my viewfinder and took a few shots, including this first one (“Awakening”), as the sun slowly crept over the tops of the trees. I was too busy to notice that my dad had disappeared. Until, that is, I heard a shutter clicking behind me…

Me: “What are you DOING?”

Dad: “Taking pictures of the photographer at work!”

Me: “Seriously? You’re standing behind me and I really do not want a photograph of my toosh, thank you very much. Is that a video camera over your shoulder?”

Dad: *laughs* “Oh, you don’t want me to take movies?”

(In case anyone wonders, yes, I am an only child and yes, every second of my entire life has been documented on slide, film, video, Polaroid and every other medium available).

After we agreed on a one-camera-only arrangement, my father then decided to give himself the title “Location Scout:”

“Oh, that’s nice! What about here? How about there? Did you see that? This? There? That one?”

I appreciated his enthusiasm. Really, I did *she says, knowing her father will be reading this at some point*.

We moved on to Arlington Cemetery at nine o’clock. The morning light was lovely – clear and bright – and the day was warming up nicely. We took some time to walk the hill, striding past tour groups, my father making snide comments about how I should be walking faster than him (I reminded him I was carrying an insanely heavy camera bag). I shot rows of bright white headstones, stretching out like sad white pickets in an endless fence. I photographed the memorials of JFK and RFK, fire and water, nestled in the vibrant green hillside. We walked to the memorial to women in the military and gazed across the immense white stone amphitheater to the city that lay sprawling out beyond. I thought of all the men and women lying under those silent white stones. I thought of the presidential election that was coming in three days. I took this second photograph and thought of Ms. Dickenson’s beautiful poem, “Hope is the Thing With Feathers.” So, during these dull winter days, I wish each of you a bit of sunshine, warmth, and hope.